Exercise And Sickness (6 of 6): Working Out With Digestive & Respiratory Problems


On this post, you are going to learn how to exercise when you have some type of respiratory or digestive problem.

I didn’t decide to write about digestive and respiratory problems in the same post because they require the same attention when exercising. They don’t. But since you have read my previous posts of this series, it will be easier for you to make sense of what I’m about to write; therefore, there is no need to divide this post into two different ones.

You know more about calories and metabolism after reading my thyroid post of this series; you know more about stress and weight by reading the first 2 posts. You also know how to exercise while detoxing by having read this post. By now, you even know how exercise may affect your heart because you’ve read my last post.

Now you know that your body is affected by stress BIG TIME. It doesn’t matter what body system we are talking about. If you are under chronic stress (emotional, physical, or chemical), your body will react the same way. I wrote it all HERE for you.

So there’s no reason to spend hours at the gym and days restricting calories. When you are under stress, your body will identify exercise and calorie restriction as even more stress. As a consequence, your health will be affected and the scale won’t move down. It’s really just that simple.

Sometimes I only realize that my body is under a lot of stress when I notice that my jeans getting tighter. I think to myself: “I haven’t changed anything about my diet and exercise routine… how come?”. And then I think about what’s going on in my life and I’m like: “Ha! Stress!”. So I allow my body to do its thing as I focus on distressing. When I feel better and go back to my normal routine, my efforts start to pay off again.

digestive system

I’m gonna make this very simple to understand.

There are two ways to look at our digestive systems and their disorders or symptoms: they are functioning either too slow or too fast. Whatever your problem may be, when you have a digestion disorder, you will end up with one of these two end results:

  • Constipation: slows down digestion
  • Diarrhea: speeds up digestion

It doesn’t matter if you have Diverticulitis, GERD, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), or IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease). When you have a digestive problem, your body will react in one of those two ways. (If you look up symptoms of these disorders, you will always see constipation or diarrhea).

There are exceptions for this “rule” though: gastritis and ulcers.

If you do have one of those, stop everything that you are doing and go see your doctor. He/she will check for more serious underlying conditions such as H. pylori bacteria. People may also acquire gastritis if they use anti-inflammatories drugs (NSAIDs) on a regular basis, if they have untreated Chron’s Disease, etc.

Besides that, our brains and stomachs are in constant communication. When you are under chronic stress, our stomach becomes so acidic that it can also start becoming inflamed (gastritis). If you don’t take action (which can be in a natural way), that inflammation will turn into an ulcer, and you will end up with dangerous holes in your stomach, in need of a doctor ASAP. That’s when you have to focus on releasing stress

how to exercise with digestive problems

From everything that you’ve learned so far from my previous posts, and after reading what you just read, I’m positive that you would make the right decision for your health, for now on.

What do you think you should do if your digestive system has slowed down (constipation)?

Yes, you need to move more! Walk more, do more cardio exercises. Running, swimming, cycling, whatever it is, make sure you are moving your body at a constant rhythm, for at least 20 min per day. You need that constant rhythm so that you can stimulate your digestion to also work with its own rhythm.

Yoga is also great. There are even some yoga poses that will specifically help with digestion, so you should really check it out if you are having a hard time with constipation (no pun intended… lol).

What do you think you should do if your digestive system has sped up (diarrhea)?

Well, that’s an easy question! Lol. Exactly: nothing. Do not exercise, or you end up embarrassed in a corner of some gym, or with a shirt around your waist as you do some cardio on your way to the bathroom!

Respiratory System

Last system of this series!

I want to use this body system to test your knowledge since you’re probably a “pro” at this subject by now, after reading all of my other posts!

Some common problems of the respiratory system include:

  • asthma – wheezing and breathlessness caused by a narrowing of the airways
  • bronchitis – inflammation of the lung’s larger airways
  • emphysema – disease of the alveoli (air sacs) of the lungs
  • hay fever – an allergic reaction to pollen, dust or other irritants
  • influenza – caused by viruses
  • laryngitis – inflammation of the voice box (larynx)
  • pneumonia – infection of the lung.
just Quick Explanation about oxygen

We breathe in oxygen, everyone knows that. Now, what is the oxygen’s function once it’s in our bodies?

Oxygen is ultimately the fuel that allows our cells to produce energy from the foods that we eat.

For our bodies to use the energy from the foods that we consume, oxygen must be supplied to our cells, and carbon dioxide removed. Lungs take in oxygen for the combustion of food and they eliminate the carbon dioxide produced.

That is why a lack of oxygen – or not breathing clean oxygen- is detrimental to our health. That is also why when we eat properly and exercise, our bodies can use oxygen more efficiently. 🙂

Makes sense, huh?

How To Exercise With Respiratory Problems

Here is where I want you guys to use your knowledge from the previous posts.

How should someone exercise if they have pneumonia, bronchitis, emphysema, hay fever?… Really? They simply can’t, right??

If you have asthma, for example, but you are feeling well one day, do what you can when you can do it. And, if you have asthma, you will definitely know when to stop!

And the reason for that is because we NEED our lungs to exercise. If our lungs are compromised, we are forced to rest. It’s like what I wrote on my first post of this series: if you break your foot, you can’t go for a run because you will suffer the consequence of your decision right away.

The problem is when the consequences are hidden and we don’t feel immediate pain. That’s when we make mistakes and put our health at risk because we end up thinking too much, and feeling and listening to our bodies too little.

Tell me: isn’t it easy to listen to our bodies when we have our ears open? When we do, everything makes so much sense! When we do, we feel so much more in control… Well, let me tell you a secret: you are always in control of your body! The thing is: when you don’t listen to it, you just don’t know what steps to take to make it better. You can’t control something that you can’t see, or in this case, listen.

You wouldn’t drive with your eyes closed, would you? So open your ears!! (Ok, that didn’t make any sense… or did it? LOL)

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this series of posts about exercising for different health conditions as much as I enjoyed writing them!

As always, choose to be healthy!

See you next week!

Much love being sent your way,

Gabi Brandao
Disease Prevention Advocate, Blogger, Author, Speaker, Certified Holistic Health and Wellness Coach by the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, Board Certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, and Licensed Medical Massage Practitioner by the Virginia Board of Nursing



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